Still no: Beachcomber bachelorette was not Murphy’s daughter
SEASIDE HEIGHTS — A debunked rumor that Gov. Phil Murphy's daughter is planning to get married this month — even as her father preaches social distancing and keeps in place a ban on outdoor dining — just won't die.
But no, a bachelorette group at the Beachcomber Bar and Grill did not include the 20-year-old and a few friends, according to the business's owner — as well as a person who says she was mistaken for the governor's daughter herself.
Allegations spread widely on social media suggesting other otherwise this weekend — supposedly backed up by a pixelated photo of someone the owner says isn't the governor's daughter, and supposedly confirmed by a legislator who didn't actually confirm anything.
"A bachelorette crew did come through on Saturday, but not the governor’s daughter. Other than having blonde hair, all servers agreed she looked nothing like his daughter," Beachcomber owner Michael Carbone told New Jersey 101.5 News. He added that the woman out with friends was of legal drinking age, and had gone through a standard identification check.
The rumors — echoed this weekend by several New Jersey-based conservative blogs and Facebook groups with large followings — started among other customers on the outdoor patio, Carbone said.
In a comment on the NJ Incident Alert Network Facebook page — which shared a the photo, claiming it showed the governor's daughter without proof — a Facebook user named Camille Tough says she's the one actually pictured.
"Just wanted to personally post on this and say it isn’t the governor’s daughter it’s ME!!!!" she wrote I was out enjoying my bachelorette weekend with my girls! We were harassed by a man claiming I was the governor’s daughter and when we told him that I wasn’t her he still continued to harass myself and my friends. Also he was not wearing a mask as well and tried to get extremely close to us."
She continued: "I feel very sorry for the lack of respect people have towards other people. I feel sorry for the governor’s daughter who is being attacked, no one should do that. I’m not sure what is happening to this world but people really need to love more instead of put out all this hate. These comments are cruel and unnecessary. Next time you want to put out something mean, maybe think about how it would affect you . Kindness wins !!!"
Several other people joined the comments to say they were part of the group as well, and that the bride pictured was Tough.
"This is my friend Camille!"Cory Behler wrote. "She’s from Pennsylvania, enjoying her bachelorette weekend with her friends. Who ever the guy was that followed and stalked them for a photo, needs to fact check before posting crap like this. I’m so sorry Camille and to the governors daughter who have to deal with public ridicule from people who will believe anything that they read. Know the facts before you start to bash other people."
And from Jenna Shafer: "Guys, that is not her. This is my friend Camille and we were celebrating her bachelorette party. I dont know who posted this but check your facts before posting things like this."
Emma Murphy, a 20-year-old University of Virginia sophomore, has been the focus of a made-up engagement and wedding rumor since New Jersey slowly began to reopen after its months long shutdown due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. An earlier version of the rumor, also shared on multiple local conservative blogs and social accounts, alleged she was slated to hold an indoor wedding at the Park Savoy — which the venue flatly denied.
Had it been true, that would have been in violation of the ongoing ban on indoor dining, and likely of limits of indoor crowd sizes. But the Park Savoy said it's not open for any indoor weddings — least of all one for the governor's daughter.
Carbone said a group of ladies came through the Beachcomber around dusk Saturday.
The low-resolution photo of four young women, one in a white dress and veil and facing away from the camera, began making the rounds online Saturday or Sunday. It appeared, among other places, on the popular Ocean County Scanner News site in a post that has since been taken down, saying: "There was allegedly a sighting of 20 year old Emma Murphy with friends having her Bachelorette Party at the Beachcomber in Seaside Heights. The photo was sent in by a viewer. The irony of the photo is that none of the ladies are social distancing nor have masks on despite her Father’s Order to do so."
The post didn't say who specifically submitted the photo, or offer any proof that the person in it was Emma Murphy.
Ocean County Scanner News later posted: "Previously we posted a story with a photo of Governor Phil Murphy’s daughter allegedly celebrating her bachelorette party in Seaside Heights. She was seen at Beachcomber with no face mask, along with the other females in her party." It said the picture was sent by one of the site's "reporters" and that it was not removed at the behest of any government official or agency.
"While many people disagree with Governor Murphy’s decisions and policies, we felt it was proper to leave his family out of it," the site said in its follow-up post.
It once again didn't offer any proof the person pictured was Emma Murphy — or even a reason why the site believed it might be the governor's daughter.
On Sunday, Monmouth County Senator Declan O'Scanlon weighed in by saying on Twitter: "There are photos circulating this evening on social media of Gov. Murphy’s children. I will battle with the Governor over policy. But I will stand with him in unshakable solidarity when it comes to our kids.They are off limits folks. Don’t go there. Don’t do this. Delete..move on."
O'Scanlon's tweet was re-shared dozens of times and prompted more than 300 comments, including people saying the comment was confirmation to them that it was Murphy's daughter. Screenshots of his tweet were also packaged with the original photo in several tweets and Facebook posts by other individuals over the weekend.
In a conversation with New Jersey 101.5 News, O'Scanlon said the Beachcomber's denial that the photo was of Emma Murphy makes the circulation of the image "even worse."
"People were saying it was the governor's daughter — whether she's 20 or 17 — but the kids of politicians should be off limits. There shouldn't be any attempt to take or publish pictures of them, or comment. It's not a place we should go. Our kids ought to be off limits."
Murphy has recently expanded the state's limit on outdoor crowds to 500 people, and outdoor weddings complying with size limits have been allowed since June. Some on social media alleged Murphy only made those changes to accommodate his daughter's supposed wedding.
O'Scanlon said people spreading rumors about the governor's daughter, using that as a basis, "stinks."
"There's plenty of substance and policy debate without diving into his family life and kids," OScanlon said. "It wasn't fair when it happened to the Christies. It's not fair with the Murphys."
When asked for a response to both the Beachcomber and the Park Savoy rejecting the rumors as false, O'Scanlon said: "The governor's family has said there is no wedding. We should let it lie. It is not something to attack the governor on preemptively. Tormenting his family is not a place we need to go."
New Jersey 101.5 could find no online record of any engagement announcement or wedding registry linked the undergrad Murphy, who is a double major in English and computer science, according to a student spotlight interview posted by the University of Virgina in July.
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